Biotech company Moderna has announced its plan to develop a seasonal flu vaccine for the influenza season.
“We are announcing that we are increasing our investment in vaccines and we will develop a seasonal flu vaccine given the unmet need for highly effective vaccines,” CEO Stephane Bancel said in a press release about the seasonal flu vaccine.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that influenza has led to 9 million to 45 million illnesses annually since 2010. According to Moderna, Covid-19 vaccines will limit the risk of having influenza by 40% to 60% compared with individuals who are not inoculated.
Moderna believes that vaccines “face significant challenges from strain mismatch.” Meanwhile, a highly effective vaccine has benefits for high-risk groups, such as the elderly.
Moderna Covid-19 vaccine
As for their potential Covid-19 vaccine, Moderna previously said its clinical trials will slow down its schedule to ensure the participation of minorities, the elderly, and those with underlying conditions.
Moderna clinical trials are structured to register 30,000 individuals in the US to prove the safety and efficacy of its candidate coronavirus vaccine. As of Aug. 28, the drug manufacturer had enlisted 17,458, 24% of whom are from communities of color. The company presents updates on enrollment numbers every Friday afternoon.
Moderna shares were down more than 8% after the announcement, and had bounced back by early afternoon. The stock has increased by 211% since the start of the year.
Moderna clinical trials are prioritizing the enrollment of the elderly, communities of color and people with underlying health conditions since they are at greater risk from Covid-19. Meanwhile, public health experts place importance on the inclusion of diverse groups to make sure the vaccines are effective in every population and for establishing trust among all communities to take the vaccine if and when it becomes available.
“The Black community has been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, and that’s not biological but rather due to socioeconomic inequities resulting from racism,” said Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health.
Moderna says its Covid-19 vaccine shows promising results in an early-stage clinical trial of elderly patients, according to the biotech firm’s announcement.
Moderna tested its Covid-19 vaccine on 10 adults between the ages of 56 and 70 and 10 elderly adults aged 71 and older. Each respondent took two 100 microgram doses of the vaccine 28 days apart.
The respondents developed neutralizing antibodies, which researchers think are important to establish immunity to the virus, and T-cells, Moderna said regarding its results, which have not yet been released in a peer-reviewed journal.
Moreover, the antibodies that were developed were higher than those seen in patients who have recovered from Covid-19.
The coronavirus vaccine from Moderna also seems to be well tolerated, without serious adverse events reported, according to the company. The symptoms experienced by patients were chills, fatigue, headaches, and pain at the injection site, but most of them got resolved within two days.
Shares of Moderna increased by about 6% in intraday trading Wednesday. The company will conduct a conference call at 4:30 p.m. ET to deliberate about the results.